My Relationship With My Chest
March 22, 2017 Jamey Hampton 0 Comments
Let’s get one thing out in the open right away. I hate my chest. I have long looked down at my boobs, which are only an A cup anyway, and wished they were gone, fantasized about being able to run my hand down a completely flat chest. I came out as non-binary in late 2014.
I don’t remember exactly when I started feeling so contemptuous about these mounds of flesh attached to my torso. I guess it was a feeling that built up over time. I do remember the first time I vocalized my frustrations about it. I remember reading an article about breast cancer survivors and just blurting out, “It’s not fair that these women had cancer and had to get them removed and they didn’t even want to. If I had cancer instead, then I could get them removed.” I looked at a photo of a woman who had undergone a mastectomy and wished so hard it could have been me instead of her. It would have been better for both of us that way.
My partner, who was a bystander to this sudden emotional release, looked at me like I had two heads. “You know, you don’t have to have cancer to get a mastectomy. You could just get one.” This thought had never occurred to me before.
I know my short foray into “feeling jealous of cancer survivors” is going to be an unpopular take but at the time, I had only been out for a few months. I didn’t have the support system in the transgender community that, thankfully, I do now. I didn’t even really know any other trans people. I didn’t know that top surgery was a thing that thousands of trans people have already gone through and that thousands more, like me, aspire to. That was the day I decided I would get top surgery.
It’s hard for me to believe that conversation happened only about two years ago. Since then, I’ve become extremely active in the trans and non-binary community and have dedicated much of my life to advocacy. But I haven’t had my top surgery yet and I don’t see it coming over the horizon anytime particularly soon. It’s expensive. It’s invasive. It takes a long time to recover from. I still fully intend to have it done as soon as I can and once I do, I won’t need to consider my relationship with my chest anymore.
But in the meantime, my relationship with my chest is something I have to think about all the time.
They’re always hanging there, feeling like useless flabs of fat, getting in the way and making me feel uncomfortable about my body, a constant reminder of the gender that everyone else seems to think I am but doesn’t resonate with me internally.
I bind when I can but binding is uncomfortable and impermanent, something I can’t do all the time without putting my health at risk. I’ve already given myself a lung infection once and now I bind a lot less than I did before that happened.
So what’s left to do with them for the time being? Well… nothing. It turns out that I can’t wish them away – and as frustrating as it is, I certainly can’t wish them onto a trans woman who looks longingly at what I avert my eyes from. All that I can do is try to make a little peace with a temporary part of my body that doesn’t reflect who I really am.
What I’ve learned from this experience, from my dysphoria, is that my body isn’t a holy grail of what it means to be me – and it doesn’t have to be! My body is just a costume I have to wear and there’s no reason I need to let myself be defined by what it looks like. I don’t love my body for my boobs and my feminine curves, but I do love my body because it lets me run and jump, hike through creeks and up mountains, feel the night air and the rain on my skin. That’s what it was meant to do and it’s doing a fine job.
Yes, I intend to keep making modifications to it when I can, altering it to better fit my needs and my image of myself. Top surgery is still on the road map for my life somewhere along the line, when I’m able to figure out all the logistics. But for now, I’ve found I can still appreciate my body for the adventures we go on together, unwanted boobs and all.